Noted: the Greeting Card Expo

by John Smyth, A. Smyth Co.
Co-Chair, Noted 2020

Noted continues to inch closer to its San Francisco debut! With a focus on getting the word out, we sent our first mailer to 7,000 retailers, placed an ad in Stationery Trends, and grew the Noted Instagram to over 2000 followers. Thank you to JS McCarthy and Leader Paper for their support with the printing, paper, mailing and fulfillment! Noted is truly a staff and volunteer team effort! Also, thank you to Biely and Shoaf for connecting us with Katy Daisy for the great artwork and A Smyth Co for the design and leadership.

While the initial floor plan ready for unveiling, there is still space for individual publishers as well as neighborhoods of up to five publishers who prefer to exhibit as a group, and for sales reps who want to exhibit their lines.

The Noted team also published its list of sponsorship opportunities. All are great ways to get your name out if you are attending Noted, or even if you can’t make it this year. But we KNOW you’re going to be there! The industry needs you! Great opportunities, like the “Art of the Card”, Retailer and Exhibitor Scholarships, swag bags and much more are now available. Many opportunities are first-come, first-served. 

The educational programming is also taking shape for exhibitors, sales reps and retailers. We anticipate having speakers and panels on trends, working with sales reps, addressing intellectual property, seeking sustainability and managing in-store events. The Noted team has more topics than we have time for on the show floor! Join the discussion on the schedule for Noted: The Forum on Mighty Networks. Click here to get connected:

Thank you in advance for helping to make Noted 2020 THE greeting card event of the year, and we’ll see you in San Francisco!

Public Affairs

by Sarah Moe
Chair, GCA Public Affairs Committee

While Postal Legislation Remains in the Doldrums, Greeting Card Mailers Face a Regulatory Hurricane

While the greeting card industry got an early Christmas gift in the form of a phase 1 trade deal that eliminated the prospect of tariffs on greeting cards from China, vitally needed postal legislation continued to languish despite an unsuccessful effort to attach helpful provisions to repeal the pre-funding requirement for USPS retiree healthcare benefits to the year-end funding bill. At the same time, a discussion draft on a more comprehensive bill failed to gain traction before Congress adjourned for the holidays.

Now with the second session of the 116th Congress underway, Member-level meetings have begun. Introduction of an updated consensus reform bill in both the House and Senate, however, faces powerful headwinds. Impeachment proceedings, which had consumed the attention of Members on both sides in recent months, may now be behind us. But even in the best of times, the reality of election-year politics makes the opportunity for progress on any legislation difficult.

While there is little wind in the sails for legislative reform, a hurricane is on the horizon at the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC). At the end of 2019, the PRC released an updated proposal for revising the system for setting postal rates that would expand USPS pricing authority up to 5 percentage points above the Consumer Price Index (CPI) cap. That might not seem like much, but our customers were hit with a 10-percent increase in the price of a stamp last year under a 2.4 percent CPI “cap.” This was the largest increase in stamp rates in the history of the Postal Service.

That increase will soon be challenged in a complaint by the GCA. We will also be filing comments opposing the expanded rate authority individually and in conjunction with colleagues throughout the mailing industry. Our goal is to limit exposure to higher rates at the PRC, which appears to be inclined to rely on rate increases alone to solve the USPS’ financial woes. Given Congress’ inability to move legislation, this is perhaps understandable, but we know that this approach is flawed.

We are keeping a lookout for every opportunity to advance the reform bill, even as we batten down the hatches to fight for affordable rates at the PRC. We will also be looking intently at the impact of the nickel increase on greeting card volumes. Our work with the USPS marketing team has resulted in more than 170 million more greeting cards in the mail over the last three years but that progress could be halted by the increased stamp price. All in all, 2020 is shaping up to be a challenging year with storm clouds on the horizon. But we will continue to work to make sure that the greeting card industry weathers any storm.

LOUIE Awards

by Amanda Bignall, GCA Awards & Membership Manager

Every day we are getting more and more excited about the LOUIE Awards! The cut-off date for the LOUIEs has come and gone, and now we get to work with our esteemed judges to determine the finalists for the 2020 LOUIE Awards. To view a complete list of our judges, visit our site here. Judging will be taking place on February 24-25th in Washington, DC. And soon after, all of our finalists will be announced. Over the next few months we will be highlighting our finalists on social media and preparing for the LOUIE Celebration, which will take place on May 1st in conjunction with Noted. Tickets will go on sale for the LOUIE Celebration in the next month or so – so be on the lookout for your invitation in the mail and more details to come! The LOUIE Celebration is where all of our winners will be announced, and both finalists and winners will be celebrated. We are looking forward to seeing you all soon, and wish all of our LOUIE contestants the best of luck!

GCA Workshop & Retreat

by Dave Phipps, Chair

Risk-taking entrepreneurs, creative incubators, edgy restaurants and spaces, and more: Detroit is having its come-back moment! Avanti Press is celebrating 40 years in the city, and wants to show you the real Detroit.

“The GCA has chosen Detroit for the location of its Annual Workshop and Retreat in 2020,” says GCA President, George White. “We are excited to use Detroit not only for our annual business meeting, but as our classroom to celebrate creativity, resilience, inventiveness, and the unique power of connectivity that greeting cards possess.”

The four-day workshop and retreat will be held at the Westin Book Cadillac Hotel, just three blocks away from the Avanti Press office. The event starts on September 30th with a tour and reception at Avanti Press. Two days of programming on October 1st and 2nd will feature thought leaders and entrepreneurs, plus owners and creators with card publishers from across the country. The goal of the workshop is not only to come away inspired by presenters who are chosen specifically for the greeting card industry, but to generate meaningful dialogue that moves our industry forward. The Workshop and Retreat is also the best opportunity of the year to meet with the industry’s best. Who knows what industry leader will be sitting inches from you this year? There’s only one way to find out!

Also, keep in mind that the annual GCA open Board of Directors and Annual Membership meetings will be held on Saturday morning, October 3rd.

Membership Committee Update 

by Amanda Bignall, GCA Awards & Membership Manager

We were thrilled to welcome our newest members into the GCA family in January. Our newest members include Alessaro Designs; Blue Mountain Arts; Frankie Baby; Guttersnipe Press; Handwords Publishing; Itscathywu; Nekter Cards; Pushing Up Daisies Cards; Ramona & Ruth; Red Oak Press; Sketchy Notions; The Treasurie; Wolf & Wren Press and JBM Packaging!

We ended this year on a high note, with increased membership engagement and a strong and growing membership family. We have some high expectations for our membership committee and are excited to share our future plans with you over the next few months. As a teaser, be sure to be on the lookout for some new webinars and membership activities.

Current members due for renewal this year are reminded that we are actively in the renewal season. Please contact Amanda Bignall to renew or ask any questions.

If you are interested in joining any of our committees, contact GCA Executive Director Peter Doherty.